Kgomotso “Shosho” Mokalake’s business was borne of a hobby that began light heartedly. “When I started it was an experiment. I wanted to eliminate things of no apparent worth in my life like drinking and going out a lot so I decided to try something different,” Kgomotso reminisces.
As she grew tired of being out all the time drinking, the 29-year-old mother of one discovered her love for fabric and the many things she would later realise she could create and recycle just using cloth.
From then on she has not known idle time and this has channelled her lifestyle, especially her spending habits quite positively.
Her first pieces were five very old items of clothing which she just decided to get adventurous with.
“I just put them on and I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction I got from people which really encouraged me to take my hobby more seriously. To date I recycle even note pads, photo frames, belts and everything else that people bring to me,” she says.
“I am greatly inspired by my boss. She doesn’t throw anything away. The lady is a great believer in recycling. I carried the same spirit to my wardrobe and stopped throwing my clothes away,” says Kgomotso.
She grew to love the restoring and renewing anything that would normally be seen as old. Raised by parents and extended family that predominantly sew to put food on the table, she has over the years learnt a lot about fabric and has had a particular keen interest in African fabrics like Kitenge and Leteitshi.
Her mother in particular inspired her artistic side. Growing up she would watch her sew curtains for extra cash when she was not at her day time accountancy job.
“When my shoes and clothes are old, I simply glue fabrics on to cover them and I love how they take on a new form as if they were brand new,” says Kgomotso.
She is thankful to God for being gifted with this skill for which she has had no formal training. “I use my hands to supplement my salary and I will grow my business organically and nurture it such that one day I’ll be in a position to quit my job,” says Kgomotso.
Being creative, she adds, relaxes her mind, giving her fulfilment.
Kgomotso has discovered the versatility of fabric and appreciates how cheap it is to purchase. She acknowledges that livelihoods can be improved from selling cloth in different forms.
“Everything that is African is very marketable overseas. My dream is to one day export my recycled products to markets overseas and I am optimistic that it is only a matter of time,” says Kgomotso.
She wishes to see a lot of youths transform their lives from seeking employment into looking at their immediate environment for entrepreneurship opportunities.
“A lot of us end up being stuck in stagnant jobs out of fear of being broke. I wish we could use our creativity more as youth to explore avenues of making money,” she says.